Matternet announced a city-wide drone delivery network for the rapid transport of medical goods in Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH) and logistics company Skygo. The network will significantly increase the connectivity of the Emirate’s health ecosystem and position it as a global leader in advanced air mobility.
To bring its services to Abu Dhabi, Matternet, the global leader in urban drone delivery, has partnered with SkyGo, a UAE company with in-depth knowledge of the Abu Dhabi healthcare landscape and expertise in logistics and distribution in the Gulf region. Matternet, which has been flying Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) commercially over cities since 2017, will operate its technology under SkyGo’s license for BVLOS drone delivery, and transport urgent, high-value goods such as COVID-19 vaccines, blood, and lab samples across the Abu Dhabi’s health system. Notably, last month Matternet became the first drone company in the U.S. to start transporting the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by drone.
Why does it matter?
The Abu Dhabi city network will enable faster turnaround time (TAT) of diagnostic and pathological samples, more reliable shipment of time-critical supplies, waste reduction from inventory centralization, and consolidation of distributed facilities (e.g. labs and pharmacies) to lower overhead. The service will grow to a 24/7 operation and become an indispensable part of Abu Dhabi’s logistics infrastructure.
The companies plan to install 40 droneports in Abu Dhabi by the end of the first year of operation. A drone transportation network at this scale not only will make healthcare more efficient and improve patient outcomes, but also will reduce the number of delivery vehicles on Abu Dhabi’s roads, alleviating congestion, improving air quality, and lowering the city’s carbon footprint.
SkyGo and Matternet have completed the first phase of in-country flight testing, and at the DoH headquarters in Abu Dhabi the companies recently hosted a real-time demonstration of the service in the presence of H.E. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, H.E. Eng. Sultan Bin Saed Al Mansoori, H.E. Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi Undersecretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, and H.E. Sultan Al Dhaheri, Executive Board Member of SkyGo among others. The demo flight transported a live patient PCR test from Zayed Sports City to a laboratory with end-to-end chain of custody tracking via Matternet’s Terminal and Mission Control applications. The companies plan to complete testing by the end of year and begin commercial operations in Q1 2022.
On the record
“We are seeing Matternet’s vision of building city-wide drone transportation infrastructure come to fruition in Abu Dhabi,” said Andreas Raptopoulos, Matternet’s CEO. “The complementary expertise and synergies with SkyGo have enabled us to move at unprecedented speed with plans to launch a network covering dozens of Abu Dhabi healthcare facilities in just the first year of operation. This will be a model for the rest of the world on how to successfully scale drone delivery for the benefit of healthcare and society overall.”
Houssam Mahmoud, SkyGo’s CEO added, “SkyGo and Matternet are on a journey to reinvent the supply chain for ‘The City of The Future.’ The first milestone will be to connect the entire healthcare ecosystem in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.”
Matternet has developed best-in-class technology for on-demand, aerial delivery in urban environments. The company provides its technology platform-as-a-service to healthcare and logistics organizations.
In March 2017, Matternet became the first company in the world to be authorized for commercial BVLOS operations of drone logistics networks over cities in Switzerland. In March 2019, Matternet and UPS announced a partnership to provide drone delivery services to US healthcare systems, with networks at WakeMed Health in NC and Wake Forest Baptist Health.
In October 2019, Matternet’s technology enabled the first FAA-Approved Drone Airline in the US, UPS Flight Forward. In September 2020, Matternet expanded to Asia through a partnership with Japan Airlines (JAL). In November 2020, Matternet initiated the first permanent BVLOS medical drone network in the European Union with Labor Berlin.
Finally, in September 2021 – Matternet powered the first Covid-19 vaccine drone delivery in the United States.